Air Conditioning condensate pumps, and their proper installation
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Air conditioner condensate pump guide:
This air conditioning repair article discusses the inspection of air conditioning condensate pumps & condensate pump control systems, including their proper installation.
This is part of our installation, inspection, & troubleshooting guide for condensate piping, traps, drains,
condensate pumps, and the detection and hazards of air conditioning system condensate leaks in buildings.
We also provide a MASTER INDEX to this topic, or you can try the page top or bottom SEARCH BOX as a quick way to find information you need.
CONDENSATE PUMPS - Air Conditioning Condensate Pump Installation & Repair
Air conditioner condensate pumps are a convenient way to collect and dispose of the condensate produced by an air conditioning system when the air handler/cooling coil are located in a building location where the cooling condensate cannot be drained
away by gravity.
The most common situation is the need to dispose of air conditioner condensate produced by an air handler which is installed in a building basement or crawl space.
Air conditioner condensate is water removed from the building air as that warm, moisture-containing air moves across the
cooling coil in the building's air conditioning system's air handler or blower unit.
The photograph shown here is of a common air conditioner condensate disposal pump.
It's a little hard to see the pump's drain tube
but it's that clear plastic tube in the upper left of this photo. If you are really alert you may have noticed those
two capped-off copper tubes protruding from the concrete floor in the foreground of this photo.
This pair of tubes
is a convincing indication that there was an oil tank, probably a buried oil tank, installed at this property - a topic
that needs further investigation. See Oil Tanks - The Oil Storage Tank Information Website, for
details on that topic. Don't let our focus on any individual building concern make us miss another, possibly important discovery.
The air conditioner condensate pump photo at the very top of this page shows an air conditioning condensate pump installed in an attic where it was used to
move condensate across to a final condensate disposal point.
The white piping is a gravity drain that
moves condensate from the attic air conditioner air handler down into the condensate pump reservoir.
see much of the condensate reservoir because the installer placed this pump down into the attic floor (so that
she could drain condensate into it by gravity).
The copper tube looping in the air is the drain line through
which the condensate pump is moving condensate out of its reservoir to a disposal point. You can also see the
black electrical wire bringing power to the condensate pump. The black round motor with a white label is
the motor that powers the condensate pump.
The black rectangular device is a voltage transformer that converts
the building's 120V to the voltage needed by the pump motor.
In the background of this interesting photograph
we see a blue sump pump with a green garden hose connected to it. We surmise that the owner had previously
tried to use this sump pump to remove condensate from the attic air handler. Stains suggest that the
attic floor has previously been wet by air conditioner condensate spillage, perhaps leading to the
more careful condensate pump installation shown here.
Sequence of Steps in the Operation of an Air Conditioner Condensate Pump
Moisture laden warm air moves across the cooling coil in the air conditioner. As the air is cooled, moisture leaves the cooler
air and condenses on the surface of the cooling coil.
Moisture on the surface of the cooling coil drips into a collector tray inside the air conditioner's air handler or blower unit
Moisture, or now we'll call it water or air conditioner condensate, flows out of the collector tray into a drain opening and downwards
in a pipe or perhaps a flexible tube where the water is conducted to the entry opening of an air conditioning condensate pump unit.
The air conditioner condensate pump includes a small water reservoir which receives the condensate from the air conditioner. As the water
level rises inside this small reservoir a float switch located there is lifted by the rising water.
When the water level inside the air conditioning condensate pump rises to a near-full level, the float switch turns on a small
electric motor (the air conditioner condensate pump requires electricity to work and has to be plugged-in).
The air conditioner condensate pump motor and pump move water out of the air conditioner condensate pump reservoir upwards
in a drainage pipe or tube, usually flexible plastic tubing.
The air conditioner condensate pump drain tube conducts the water produced by the system upwards to a building drain or in
some conditions, outside, where it is disposed of as wastewater.
Proper and Improper Places to Route and Connect an Air Conditioner Condensate Pump Drain Line
Here is an excerpt from the Uniform Mechanical Code pertaining to the disposal of air conditioning condensate:
"Section 310.0, 310.1 Condensate Disposal.
Condensate from air washers, air cooling coils, fuel-burning condensing appliances, the overflow from evaporative coolers and
similar water supplied equipment or similar air conditioning equipment shall be collected and discharged to an approved plumbing fixture or
If discharged into the drainage system equipment shall drain by means of an indirect waste pipe.
The waste pipe shall have a slope of not less than 1/8 inch per foot (10.5 mm/m) or one percent slope and shall be of
approved corrosion-resistant material not smaller than the outlet size as required in either Section 310.3 or 310.4 below
for air-cooling coils or condensing fuel-burning appliances, respectively.
Condensate or waste water shall not drain over a public way."
To clarify, an indirect waste pipe is something that is upstream of a trap.
That means we cannot dump into anything downstream of a trap. That would include the main plumbing vent stack - a common error in disposing
of air conditioner condensate in attic installations. -- [Thanks to Al Carson, Carson Dunlop Associates, Toronto]
Acceptable methods to dispose of air conditioning condensate from a condensate pump
Building drains with an air gap: The air conditioning condensate pump drain line should be routed to a building drain using an air gap such as that which
is used by washing machines.
Often we'll see the AC condensate drain line simply routed over to a washing machine drain in the basement.
A building sump pump: often the air conditioning condensate pump drain line is routed across a basement to a basement
sump pump system where the condensate wastewater joins other water which is collected and pumped out of the building by a larger sump pump.
Air conditioning condensate drain connections which are not recommended or are not best practice
Air conditioner condensate spillage on basement floors is often found where an installer simply places the condensate pump drain line
on the building floor where it ends near a floor drain.
The nice feature of running condensate into a floor drain is that during
the cooling season we're assuring that we keep the floor drain trap (let's hope there's a trap) primed with water, avoiding a sewer
Of course this means in dry weather or winter weather when the air conditioner is not running and the trap dries out, we
may have a problem with radon or sewer gases entering through the dry floor trap.
But a more common problem we find is
that the plastic drain tube has been kicked aside and we see condensate running across the floor. In some buildings we've found that
this wet condition has caused damage to building flooring, paneling, or drywall, leading to a mold contamination problem.
Airtight drain connections Best practice will not connect an air conditioner condensate pump directly by an airtight piped connection
to a sewer line without an air-gap. We don't want a possible sewage backup to send wastewater backwards down into the condensate pump and
out of the pump's overflow opening onto the building floors.
We understand the terms "indirect waste pipe" in the code citation
above to refer to this condition and to the need for an air gap.
Air conditioner condensate spillage on sidewalks is often found where the installer simply routed the condensate pump drain
through a building wall to the outdoors in an urban area. We also see this condition almost without fail in urban and commercial
settings where there is a transom-mounted air conditioner whose back-end simply drips onto the sidewalk below. Such installations
are in violation of common plumbing codes such as that cited just above.
AC condensate spillage into temporary containers seems completely ridiculous, but that's what we found in a florist's
walk-in cooler. The employees had to remember to empty the 5-gallon joint-compound bucket which the air conditioner installer used
as his destination for the system condensate.
Also see WALK IN COOLER REPAIR
Naturally sometimes people forgot, or were at home asleep when the bucket overflowed,
ran below the cooler floor and into the building where it caused a mold contamination problem.
Condensate disposal systems should be designed
to work without human intervention.
Reader Question: Bad condensate sensor switch shuts down the air conditioner system
One of the condensate switch went bad, thereby shutting down the system.
I have to jumper ed the a/c line (yellow) to the hot(24 volts-red) on the ignition board to get the system to come back on while shopping for a new switch or pump.
I set the condensate pump to "continuous run" as a temporary measure to prevent flooding, but risk burning out the motor to the condensate pump.
- Yaga 8/13/11
Yaga additional risks from condensate leaks into a building when you bypass or "hot wire" the condensate overflow tray sensor switch are condensate leak overflow, building damage, and mold damage
Condensate Pump Operating Temperature Range
Question: maximum water temperature that can pass through the condensate pump
2016/07/20 Anonymous asked:
What is the maximum water temperature that can pass through the condensate pump. I have a Honeywell true steam humidifier that needs to be emptied and the maximum temperature gets to 140F.
Condensate pump temperature range
Anon: a typical HVAC condensate-handling pump can accept a maximum water temperature of 40oC / 104oF (Aspen pumps) or in some cases up to about 140F° (Diversitech pumps)
But there are other pumping systems designed for use with heating boilers or steam condensate that might suit for you.
For example an Aspen (brand) hot water / condensate pump can handle temperatures to 80oC / 176oF
Condensate Pump Sources
Here are some condensate pump sources that include higher-temperature handling pumps for hot condensate
Aspen® Pumps Ltd
Apex Way, Hailsham,
East Sussex, BN27 3WA
Tel: +44 (0) 1323 848842 Website: http://www.aspenpumps.com/
Actrol Pty Ltd., Blackburn Head Office, VIC
19 King Street
Blackburn 3130 Melbourne Australia, Tel: 03 9894 1033 Email: email@example.com Website: http://www.actrol.com.au/ Actrol Sauermann Mini Condensate Pumps, Australia, Tel: 1300 228 765
6650 Sugarloaf Parkway #100
Duluth, GA 30097 USA, Tel: (800) 995-2222 Website: http://www.diversitech.com/
9255 Coverdale Road
Fort Wayne Indiana 46809 U.S.A.
+1 260-824-2900 phone
+1 260-824-2909 fax Website:
What else goes wrong with air conditioning condensate pumps
In our experience these little devices are pretty reliable and useful. But a few things do go wrong, some more often than others.
Kinked or clogged condensate removal tubes can prevent the condensate pump from discharging its water successfully. When this happens
air conditioning condensate will just spill out of the pump reservoir into the building. Watch out for kinks in the pump drain tubing,
and watch out for low loops in the tubing that collect algae, dirt, or other muck that can clog the tube.
Poorly-secured condensate pumps in a few locations have been found moved by occupants (kids) or tipped over or even stepped-on
as you can see in the photo above. This unit was working fine, it just looked ugly.
Burned up condensate pump motors have never been reported to us nor have we found one, but it's possible.
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Eric Galow, Galow Homes, Lagrangeville, NY. Mr. Galow can be reached by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone: 914-474-6613. Mr. Galow specializes in residential construction including both new homes and repairs, renovations, and additions.
 Reader Stuart Oakner suggested the Mighty Pump (below) as a method for clearing clogged or blocked air conditioning or heat pump condensate drains.
 Mighty Pump, is a manual pump that is used to clean or clear out a debris-clogged A/C or heat pump condensate drain. The kit from acdrainpump.com includes a reversible, hand operated pump and flexible inlet and outlet hoses designed along with an adapter to connect the pump to a 3/4" condensate drain line. The company can also be contacted by email to Info@ACDrainPump.com.
 Simpson Strong-Tie, "Code Compliant Repair and Protection Guide for the Installation of Utilities in Wood Frame Construction", web search 5/21/12, original source strongtie.com/ftp/fliers/F-REPRPROTECT09.pdf, [copy on file as /Structures/Framing/Simpson_Framing_Protectors.pdf ]. "The information in this guide is a summary of requirements
from the 2003, 2006 and 2009 International Residential Code
(IRC), International Building Code (IBC), International Plumbing
Code (IPC), International Mechanical Code (IMC), 2006 Uniform
Plumbing Code (UPC) and the 2005 National Electrical Code." broad. Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands enforce one or more of the I-Codes.
 2006 ICC Model Building Code Chapter 3, General Regulations, New Jersey Mechanical Code, web search 8/2/2012, original source: http://www2.iccsafe.org/states/newjersey/NJ_Mechanical/PDFs/2006_Chapter%203-General%20Regulations.pdf
Quoting about the ICC:
The International Code Council (ICC) was established in 1994 as a non-profit organization dedicated to developing a single set of comprehensive and coordinated national model construction codes.
The International Code Council is a member-focused association dedicated to helping the building safety community and construction industry provide safe, sustainable and affordable construction through the development of codes and standards used in the design, build and compliance process. Most U.S. communities and many global markets choose the International Codes.
The International Codes, or I-Codes, published by ICC, provide minimum safeguards for people at home, at school and in the workplace. The I-Codes are a complete set of comprehensive, coordinated building safety and fire prevention codes. Building codes benefit public safety and support the industry’s need for one set of codes without regional limitations.
Fifty states and the District of Columbia have adopted the I-Codes at the state or jurisdictional level. Federal agencies including the Architect of the Capitol, General Services Administration, National Park Service, Department of State, U.S. Forest Service and the Veterans Administration also enforce the I-Codes. The Department of Defense references the International Building Code for constructing military facilities, including those that house U.S. troops, domestically and a ...
 "GE Zoneline® Owners Manual and Installation Instructions, Heat/Cool Model 2900, Heat Pump Model 3900", General Electric Corporation, [copy on file].
 "GE Zoneline® Owners Manual and Installation Instructions, Heat Pump Model 5800", General Electric Corporation, [copy on file].
"Air Conditioning & Refrigeration I & II", BOCES Education, Warren Hilliard (instructor), Poughkeepsie, New York, May - July 1982, [classroom notes from air conditioning and refrigeration maintenance and repair course attended by the website author]
Carson, Dunlop & Associates Ltd., 120 Carlton Street Suite 407, Toronto ON M5A 4K2. Tel: (416) 964-9415 1-800-268-7070 Email: email@example.com. The firm provides professional home inspection services & home inspection education & publications. Alan Carson is a past president of ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors. Thanks to Alan Carson and Bob Dunlop, for permission for InspectAPedia to use text excerpts from The Home Reference Book & illustrations from The Illustrated Home. Carson Dunlop Associates' provides extensive home inspection education and report writing material.
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